A couple of months back, Priti Patel, the Employment Minister in the UK and Conservative MP made some comments on regarding social media and present day teens which really got me thinking. She stated that “This is the perfect opportunity to step away from the selfie sticks and put down Snapchat and do some work experience. It will boost chances of getting a foot on the career ladder, an apprenticeship or even a job.” Therefore, she is heavily suggesting that young people today spend too much time on social media and are not working hard enough within the outside world. This comment got me quite mad for various reasons. Firstly, social media is an important tool in today’s society for collaborative creating and advertising. Whilst being on social media, you can build connections with different people you know, whether they are friends or through business. Companies advertise everyday on social media for work experience, therefore online engagement surely must have some advantages.
Secondly, this remark implies a serious misunderstanding and lack of awareness for the shift of mainstream media from newspapers to the online world. Dr R Kay Green, a CEO of RKG Marketing solutions and huffington post writer has suggested that ‘Social Is The Future of Marketing’(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/r-kay-green/the-verdict-is-in-marketing_b_4926296.html) Therefore, I believe knowledge of these platforms can actually be beneficial for young people who need to constantly adapt their skills to suit the current jobs market.
This comment also implies that those who are active on social media are uncaring, passive and do not care about their future. Personally, I find this quite offensive as I know many teenagers that use social media for the benefit of others. Just look at the use of social media to promote good causes- from Justgiving and change.org peititions, many young people look at social media as a way of voicing their opinions and making a difference. One important example of this is the leader of the ‘Milifandom,’ feminist and activist, Abby Tomlinson. She used her twitter account to break down the stereotypes of former Labour Leader Ed Miliband as perpetrated in mainstream media and press during the 2015 General Election. Since then, she was actively involved in the Labour Leadership debate- even visiting the House Of Commons on various occasions to interview the candidates. Surely this would look much more impressive on a CV rather than sitting in a stuffy office for one week and doing meaningless tasks?
Patel also implicitly undermined the youth of today by drawing attention to her own personal life- stating that she got up everyday during her teenage years to help her father, a shopkeeper. This suggests teenagers today do not have the willingness to get a job, which is completely false. Many teenagers seek to find work and enjoy having the independence of making their own money, despite the extreme difficulty many inexperienced teens have in finding a job. As Employment Minister, this is something she should be focusing on rather than the patronisation of the younger generation.
Overall, cannot see why use of mobile phones in a digital era is correlated with negative association. Smartphones are a common feature of today’s society , with the Ericsson Mobility Report showing that 70 percent of world’s population will be using smartphones by 2020. The things you can use them for are endless, and I think teenagers who use new technology need to stop being ridiculed for their ability to use new media, and their ability to educate others about it. They are the future, and their knowledge is powerful: Let’s not forget that.